Paula McMahon prepares a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as the mass public vaccination program gets underway, at the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday Dec. 8, 2020. Health Canada approved the vaccine Wednesday. (Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via AP)

Vaccinations against COVID-19 have expanded on Vancouver Island as health officials began administering vaccines to health-care workers in long-term care homes in central and northern Vancouver Island on Thursday.

Island Health says it received an additional 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, allowing immunizations to expand beyond health-care workers in Greater Victoria.

Clinics are now open in Nanaimo and Campbell River for health-care workers and support staff, including volunteers working at long-term care centres.

Island Health says eligible workers and volunteers will receive a direct notice from the health authority to book an appointment.

“Our number one goal throughout this pandemic has been to protect our residents,” said Sharron Traub, manager of Dufferin Place long-term care home in Nanaimo, in a statement Thursday. “Providing the vaccine to frontline health-care workers in long-term care is a critical line of defence to keep this virus out, and an important show of support for those caring for and protecting some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Jae Yon Jones, manager of the Yucalta Lodge care home in Campbell River, said the arrival of vaccines gives “renewed hope and a sense of relief” to long-term care workers.

Across B.C., health-care workers, residents and staff of long-term care and assisted-living facilities have been prioritized to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine doses. Residents of remote and isolated First nation communities have also been prioritized for the vaccine.

Immunization appointments for the general public are not being scheduled at this time under B.C.’s vaccination plan.

A strategy for widespread inoculations is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.